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15 January, 2021 Open access

Government must immediately ban all bailiff doorstep visits to prevent serious risks to public health

Money Advice Trust and other debt charities highlight that, as pandemic enters its most dangerous phase, the current suspension of bailiff enforcement of rental evictions should be extended to include suspension of all bailiff visits for debt enforcement

The government must immediately stop all bailiff doorstep visits to prevent serious risks to public health, a coalition of debt advice charities has warned.

Issuing the warning on behalf of the Taking control campaign for bailiff reform - that includes Stepchange Debt Charity, the Institute of Money Advisers and Advice UK - the Money Advice Trust reports that, while bailiff visits for debt enforcement were suspended from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, their resumption in August 2020 has resulted in debt advice charities seeing concerning cases of poor practice such as aggressive and intimidating behaviour and poor treatment of vulnerable claimants.

Highlighting that bailiff visits could endanger the health of both enforcement agents and debtors, the Trust goes on to say -

‘With senior government figures saying we're approaching the most dangerous phase of the pandemic, the suspension of bailiff visits urgently needs to be reintroduced.’

Chief executive of the Money Advice Trust Joanna Elson said -

‘As things stand, a voluntary measure is all that is in place to stop bailiffs entering properties during this latest lockdown - when we are in the midst of a health crisis this is not acceptable. As was the case back in March last year, the government needs to go further by suspending bailiff visits completely. At a time when the risk to public health is so high, a ban on bailiff visits is needed urgently to protect both bailiffs and people in debt.'

For more information, see Continued bailiff activity a risk to public health, warn charities from the Money Advice Trust website.